Saturday, April 16, 2016

Record Store Day 2016

It’s April 16, 2016: Record Store Day

Now for a lunatic like me, (almost) every day is (or could be) record store day. I frequent local record stores on the reg and enjoy being surrounded by vinyl, cassettes, CDs, books, and posters. Um, nerd alert!? Record stores are also important community hubs and places of great debate and conversation (mostly about the prices that certain rare records command online, but that’s another story).

Earlier this morning, I saw an Instagram photo of a lengthy snake-like line forming outside of Vancouver’s Red Cat Records, a good few hours before the store’s opening. Folks of all ages appeared to be rip, roaring, and ready to get their hands on an exclusive selection of limited RSD titles sold specifically on this day. I have heard reports that a great number of these titles go unlistened to by their consumers and that many who buy vinyl don’t even have a working turntable. Some are simply in it for the “collectability” factor (picture discs, coloured vinyl, special packaging, etc…) or resale value rather than the music contained within the grooves. I hope that these folks find what they are looking for.

Thankfully, some of the better record stores in the area are also hosting live performances on this special day, a celebration of music, its makers, and those who help to spread the good word in support.

As we know, in 2016, music is digital and (mostly) free. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is up for discussion at your local watering hole or doughnut shop (for the non-drinkers out there). Is there a need to press music onto vinyl records in this day and age? For nostalgia, yes! For aesthetics, yes! For convenience, no! For fidelity, let’s get Neil Young on the dial!

To me, the best thing about vinyl records is that they were the medium of recorded sound from the era of music in which I love, research, and champion, primarily, the 1950s-80s. Now if my math is correct, the 1990s began just over 25 years ago. This was the era of the CD boom, when vinyl production trailed off, pressing plants shut down, and new vinyl was mostly for hip-hop and dance music DJs as well as independent rock, jazz, classical, and audiophile specialists. Today, vinyl manufacturing has increased significantly and sales are up, hence Record Store Day, an opportunity to continue to commercialize what, for me is, at its best (when speaking of the world of vintage used records), a subversive form of consumerism and communication more inline with recycling than crass corporate capitalism.

Do independent retailers deserve a day to make a lot of money in a challenging market? Mostly definitely! Is RSD a gateway into the wonderful world of records for young listeners? I hope so! Do I love music on wax? Yeah, for sure! It’s just that I won’t be buying any RSD releases this year. Well, maybe that Alanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill demos album on clear vinyl. The rest, I can easily enjoy online.

Sipreano will be playing records at Beat Street Records (439 W Hastings St., Vancouver) at 5 pm today as part of Record Store Day

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